Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife

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Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued December 3, 1991
Decided June 7, 1992
Full case nameManuel Lujan, Jr., Secretary of the Interior, Petitioner v. Defenders of Wildlife, et al.
Citations504 U.S. 555 (more)
112 S. Ct. 2130; 119 L. Ed. 2d 351; 60 U.S.L.W. 4495; 1992 U.S. LEXIS 3543; 34 ERC (BNA) 1785; 92 Cal. Daily Op. Service 4985; 92 Daily Journal DAR 7876; 92 Daily Journal DAR 8967; 22 ELR 20913; 6 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 374
Case history
PriorDefendant's motion to dismiss granted, Defenders of Wildlife v. Hodel, 658 F. Supp. 43 (D. Minn. 1987); reversed and remanded, 851 F.2d 1035 (8th Cir. 1988); summary judgment granted to plaintiffs, 707 F. Supp. 1082 (D. Minn. 1988); affirmed, sub nom. Defenders of Wildlife v. Lujan, 911 F.2d 117 (8th Cir. 1988); cert. granted, 500 U.S. 915 (1991)
Plaintiffs did not have standing to bring suit under the Endangered Species Act, because the threat of a species' extinction alone did not establish an individual and nonspeculative private injury.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
Byron White · Harry Blackmun
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
David Souter · Clarence Thomas
Case opinions
MajorityScalia (Parts I, II, III-A, IV), joined by Rehnquist, White, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas
PluralityScalia (Part III-B), joined by Rehnquist, White, Thomas
ConcurrenceKennedy, joined by Souter
DissentBlackmun, joined by O'Connor
Laws applied
U.S. Const. Art. III; 16 U.S.C. § 1536 (§ 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973)

Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992), was a United States Supreme Court case decided on June 12, 1992, in which the court held that a group of American wildlife conservation and other environmental organizations lacked standing to challenge regulations jointly issued by the U.S. Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce, regarding the geographic area to which a particular section of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 applied. The case arose over issues of US funding of development projects in Aswan, Egypt and Mahaweli, Sri Lanka that could harm endangered species in the affected areas. The government declared that the act did not apply to projects outside of the United States and Defenders of Wildlife sued.

Said Lily Henning of the Legal Times:

In [this] decision, hailed by the right and attacked by the left as well as by a broad swath of legal scholars, the Court made clear that plaintiffs must suffer a concrete, discernible injury—not a "conjectural or hypothetical one"—to be able to bring suit in federal court. It, in effect, made it more difficult for plaintiffs to challenge the actions of a government agency when the actions don't directly affect them.[1]

Writing for the plurality, Justice Scalia stated that Defenders had failed to satisfy Constitutional requirements for “injury in fact” that would grant standing under the Endangered Species Act. He wrote that the Court rejected the view that the citizen suit provision of the statute conferred upon “all persons an abstract, self-contained, non-instrumental ‘right’ to have the Executive observe the procedures required by law." Rather, he explained, an American citizen plaintiff must have suffered a tangible and particular harm.

Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice David Souter asserted in their concurring opinion that an airline ticket to the affected geographic areas with endangered species in question would have been enough to satisfy the imminent threat of future injury requirement.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Henning, Lily. "Roberts and Scalia: Standing Side by Side". Retrieved 2012-07-20.(subscription required)

External links[edit]